David Slavitt's "Titanic" analysis Essay

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A Look into David R. Slavitt’s “Titanic”

The sinking of the Titanic was a tragedy that had an impact for the entire world. To this day, everyone is familiar with the event. It’s no wonder why mention of the ship would incite a certain dread in the hearts of those who lay their eyes on it. The title, “Titanic” (391), however, is a mere decoy. It’s a tool used to set up the ironic tone of the poem. This is made clear through the rather blunt first line, “Who does not love the Titanic?” The word “love” is a rather explicit word used to describe the world’s reaction toward the vessel for years to come. While the initial set up seems to be satirical, this isn’t the speaker’s true intention. The poem references something other than fear or
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this can be construed as a blatant jab at how we romanticize great tragedies though the media. Despite this, the longing to be longed for is still made apparent by the examples given. The fourth stanza reverts itself to the gloomy tone the title implies with the lines, “The cold water is anesthetic and very quick. / The cries on all sides must be a comfort.”(11-13), at a glance, these lines seem to be pure irony. The words used to describe the atmosphere of their final moments arouse the feeling of sarcasm, rather than desire. However, when compared other means of death, slipping peacefully away in the cold could be something to pine for.
The final line of the poem, “We all go: only a few, first class.”(14), is a metaphor for death in itself. The speaker states that while death is certain and something everyone must endure; only a select few have the privilege of doing so while maintaining a spot in history as well as in the hearts of people worldwide. It is a common dread to be forgotten. For this reason, the passengers of the Titanic shouldn’t be actually be mourned for the way they have, but they should rather be envied.

Work Cited
Slavitt, David. “Titanic.” Literature to Go. Ed. Michael Meyer. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2011. 391.

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